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Immigration will fuel US population growth in next two decades amid projected fertility rate rise: report

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Immigrants recite the Pledge of Allegiance during an oath of citizenship during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony in Oakland, California, on Aug. 13, 2014. About 1,000 immigrants from 97 countries attended the ceremony. |

A Congressional report suggests that net immigration will likely account for all of the United States' population growth in the next two decades, even as fertility rates are projected to increase slightly.

The Congressional Budget Office, which conducts a nonpartisan analysis of bills proposed by the U.S. Congress, released "The Demographic Outlook: 2022 to 2052" last month.

The report includes population projections for the next 30 years. The CBO contends that "the size of the U.S. population and its age and sex composition affect federal spending, revenues, deficits, debts, and the economy."

Over the next three decades, the report predicts the U.S. population will rise from 335 million today to 369 million in 2052. The CBO forecasts that by the year 2043, U.S. population growth will be driven entirely by net immigration as the number of deaths in the country will exceed the number of births beginning at that time. 

The total fertility rate — the average number of children per woman — is expected to rise in the next three decades but will remain below the replacement rate, defined in the report as "the fertility rate required for a population to exactly replace itself in the absence of immigration."

Following a projected decline to 1.60 births per woman in 2021, the CBO estimates that the total fertility rate will rise to 1.75 births per woman in 2031 and remain steady over the next two decades. That figure fails to reach the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman. 

Over the next three decades, women under 30 are expected to see their fertility rate decline, while women aged 30 or older will see their fertility rates increase. The CBO attributes this phenomenon to "trends of delayed childbearing and the rising average age of mothers."

"[T]he size of the working-age population affects the number of people employed; likewise, the size of the population age 65 or older affects the number of beneficiaries of Social Security and other federal programs," the report reads.

The size of the working-age population, specifically those between the ages of 25 and 54, is forecasted to grow at a slower rate than the population aged 65 and older.

The population of seniors is expected to grow at a 1.2% rate per year over the next 30 years, while the population between 25 and 54 will increase at a much slower rate of 0.2%. Meanwhile, the ratio of people between the ages of 25 and 54 to the elderly is slated to shrink from 2.3 to 1 in 2022 to 1.7 to 1 in 2052.

These statistics could have an impact on the U.S.'s ability to maintain its social safety net for older Americans, Medicare and Social Security, with the number of people working to fund those benefits decreasing in the face of increased demand for the programs caused by a rising number of seniors seeking to obtain the benefits.

A decreasing mortality rate and increasing life expectancy complicate concerns about the social safety net for seniors. Following a brief increase in the mortality rate due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mortality rate is expected to decrease over the course of the next three decades steadily. At the same time, the CBO projects that life expectancy will rise from 77.1 years in 2022 to 82.3 years in 2052.

The report forecasts net immigration — the number of immigrants who leave the U.S. in a given year subtracted from the number of immigrants who come to the country in that year — will grow from around 950,000 in the next decade to about 1.1 million in the final decade of the projection period.

In the next decade, an average of 800,000 lawful permanent residents will settle in the U.S., along with about 80,000 "foreign-born people without legal status" and another 80,000 legal temporary residents.

Lawful permanent residents are "authorized to work, liable to pay income taxes, and eligible for most federal programs." On the other hand, "foreign-born people without legal status" are "generally not eligible for federal programs," and legal temporary residents have limited eligibility for such programs. 

By the final decade of the projection period, the number of lawful permanent residents settling in the U.S. per year will likely rise to 870,000 while the number of "foreign-born people without legal status" arriving in the U.S. every year will nearly double to 150,000. The number of legal temporary residents coming to the U.S. will remain steady at 80,000 if current projections hold.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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